During an appearance on Meet The Press Sunday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) repeated his call for profiling Muslims in the name of public safety, stating that although most Muslims are “outstanding people,” the threat of terrorism still stems from “the Muslim community.” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), America’s first Muslim congressman, quickly shot down that line of thinking, arguing that blanket profiling doesn’t serve the needs of law enforcement and actually undermines effective investigations by unnecessarily straining public resources.
Ellison detailed the shortcomings of King’s approach, stressing that individual behavior and actionable evidence should form the basis of terrorism investigations. He also compared King’s strategy to the similarly misguided policies that the American government adopted towards Japanese Americans during World War II.
King also asked why law enforcement hadn’t made interrogations of the Boston bombers’ mosque a higher priority, prompting host David Gregory to ask what, exactly, investigators could have asked before the bombings had occurred. King responded by repeating that such interrogations had not occurred due to “political correctness” concerning the treatment of Muslims in America.
King’s calls for profiling against Muslims is certainly nothing new. The New York congressman has been using the Boston bombings as justification for increasing surveillance of American Muslim communities, and he previously led a series of infamous congressional hearings into the potential radicalization of Muslims in America. The NYPD’s enhanced surveillance of Muslim communities, made public by an Associated Press investigative series in 2012, found that the department’s actions had “a severe chilling effect on speech, religious activity, and community life” while failing to yield a single piece of actionable intelligence.